The International Steam Pages

Our Cup Runneth Over
Surviving a Drought

This page is part of a series of garden blogs from 2016. Click here for the index.

At the beginning of July 2016, it had rained so much in England that steam rallies were being cancelled and those that survived saw engines and spectators splashing through water and mud. Then the perverse British climate cried "'Enough, enough I'm satisfied!" and at the time of writing 6 weeks later we have since had just one day of rain and the sort of temperatures that would leave the garden parched without a little bit of help. We know from experience that our plants react unfavourably to tap water so a hose is not the answer. Allowing it to stand for even a day or two is an effective work around but such are our requirements that a single water butt is not enough, so we now have some 500 litres capacity, each is filled alternately from the mains. We don't use the taps, we just dunk our two cans in the top!  On average each can gets filled more than 10 times a day as we share the burden - remember much of it has to go down the 33 steps and almost as much has to go up to the summer house level. No doubt in due course, they will fill naturally again, they share access to the drain pipe behind..

The initial result was that we could enjoy dinner on the terrace, on one particular day someone had a birthday:

Dressing for dinner, even a modest one, became the habit: Fingers crossed, the plastic netting has so far successfully protected our fish.

Further up, the vegetable patch was masked by a wall of poppies:

It's taken a few years, but Yuehong's lilies are now absolutely splendid as one by one they open up, there are many more than are included in this picture.

I've left out the roses this time around as they have featured strongly before, but rest assured they were marvellous again. My plan to use the flower bed on our northern border for dahlias which I had divided was thwarted when Yuehong dumped a job lot of gladioli in it and then for good measure squeezed in some of her excess of home grown asters.

I had no choice but to plant more than 40 dahlias in the new flower bed at the bottom.

I had no idea how well it would turn out. The honeysuckle is a revelation, the fuchsias which had sulked for years have rocketed, the African marigolds and geraniums are a mass of colour and poking out at the top are the first of the dahlias. It was a lot of work preparing this bed from scratch after the wall was built  but the result is unbelievable:

At the moment about half the dahlias have flowered, I hope by the end of August most of the rest will have added to the mix of colours.

Click here for the next installment.

Rob and Yuehong Dickinson